Boy, did Trin and I have a blow-up yesterday!
First, he brought snakes into the house, even though the night before Kristin emphasized emphatically that she didn't want snakes in the house. When I asked him to take them outside, he refused. (Fair to say, I think I worded it nicely, but it was not a request – it was a demand.) I finally forced him outside with them. Then, when he came in without them, I tried to tell him how annoyed I was about the whole thing.
He stuck his tongue out at me.
I about lost it. I was already angry, but that triggered me so badly that I grabbed him and picked him up. I yelled at him. I threatened to throw him outside with the snakes. And then I realized I was going to0 far, so I snarled, "I need a time out!" I stomped off, slamming the door behind me.
Ten minutes later, I called Kristin, and told her about it. She gave me a little empathy, and then I put Trinidad on the other phone, and went out into the garage so I wouldn't be in the same room with him.
Kristin asked Trin for his story, and that's when I realized he hadn't heard a word I said before sticking out his tongue. He gave a detailed, accurate, and objective account of the entire exchange – no judgments or evaluations, just simple observation – except that he said I'd just told him to go outside, before he stuck out his tongue. I didn't, I said that right after; but he had no memory of me saying anything else, and he knew I'd said something. (Memo to self: Connect first!)
K gave Trin a little empathy, and then asked for my story. I told it with less clarity and lack of judgment than Trin, going beyond observation to include evaluations and guesses about Trin's thoughts. K straightened me out on that, and then gave me a little more empathy.
And something shifted. It shifted in me, and it shifted in Trin.
I went into the living room, where he was. I held out my hand to him. He came to me and hugged me. I sat down on the couch, and he laid across my lap with his head resting on my arm. We cried. I told him I loved him, and he said he loved me, over and over.
The rest of the evening went very well indeed. When it got dark and I said I wanted to close the blinds and lock up the chickens, Trin jumped up and volunteered to do it himself – and he did. We – Sam, Trin and I – played with the boys' legos for a while. And when I said I was going to bed, he hastened into his pajamas, brushed his teeth, and climbed into bed before I could even get ready. No arguments. No crying. Easy, peaceful, and connected.
How sweet it was.